‘Tis the season for thousands of kids to take a seat and write their annual letters on the North Pole’s most famous resident. While sending a letter to Santa Claus might appear such as a pretty straightforward process, it’s had a colorful-and at times controversial-history. Here are 10 facts and historical tidbits to assist you appreciate what is required for St. Nick to manage his mail.
1. SANTA USED TO SEND LETTERS, NOT RECEIVE THEM.
Santa letters originated as missives children received, instead of sent, with parents utilizing them as tools to counsel kids on the behavior. For instance, Fanny Longfellow (wife of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) wrote letters to her children every season, weighing in on his or her actions across the previous year (“I am sorry I sometimes hear you might be not too kind to the little brother because i wish you had been,” she wrote to her son Charley on Christmas Eve 1851). This practice shifted as gifts took with a more central role from the holiday, and the letters morphed into Christmas wish lists. However some parents continued to publish their kids in Santa’s voice. Probably the most impressive of those can be J.R.R. Tolkien, who every Christmas, for nearly 25 years, left his children elaborately illustrated updates on Father Christmas and his life in the North Pole-filled with red gnomes, snow elves, and his awesome chief assistant, the North Polar bear.
2. ORIGINALLY, KIDS DIDN’T MAIL THEM.
Before the Post Office Department (as the USPS was known until 1971) presented a remedy in order to get personalized letters from santa to their destination, children created some creative methods for getting their messages where they necessary to go. Kids within the Usa would leave them from the fireplace, where these were believed to develop into smoke and go up to Santa. Scottish children would increase the process by sticking their heads within the chimney and crying out their Christmas wishes. In Latin America, kids attached their missives to balloons, watching his or her letters drifted into the sky.
3. IT USED TO BE ILLEGAL TO ANSWER THEM.
Kids had one other good reason never to send their letters through the mail: Santa couldn’t answer them. Santa’s mail used to see the Dead Letter Office, along with any other letters addressed to mythical or undeliverable addresses. Though lots of people provided to answer Santa’s letters, they were technically not allowed to, since opening someone else’s letters, even Dead Letters, was against the law. (Some postmasters, however, violated the rules.) Things changed in 1913, when the Postmaster General crafted a permanent exception towards the rules, allowing approved individuals and organizations to reply to Santa’s mail. Even today, such letters have to be made out explicitly to “Santa Claus” if the post office is certainly going to allow them to be answered. Doing this, families actually named “Kringle” or “Nicholas” don’t accidently have their own mail shipped to the wrong place.
4. A CARTOON HELPED SPREAD The Excitement OF WRITING TO SANTA.
If a person work might be credited with helping kickstart the practice of sending letters to Santa Claus, it’s Thomas Nast’s illustration published inside the December 1871 issue of Harper’s Weekly. The image shows Santa seated at his desk and processing his mail, sorting items into stacks labeled “Letters from Naughty Children’s Parents” and “Letters from Good Children’s Parents.” Nast’s illustrations were widely seen and shared, being at one of the highest-circulation publications from the era, and his Santa illustrations had grown in a beloved tradition since he first drew the figure for the magazine’s cover in 1863. Reports of Santa letters winding up at local post offices shot within the year after Nast’s illustration appeared.
5. NEWSPAPERS USED TO Respond To Them.
Before the Post Office Department changed its rules to allow the release of Santa letters, local newspapers encouraged children to mail letters to them directly. In 1901, the Monroe City Democrat in Monroe City, Missouri, offered “two premiums” towards the best letter. In 1922, the Daily Ardmoreite, in Ardmore, Oklahoma, offered prizes on the three best letters. The winning missives were published, often using the children’s addresses and personal information included. This practice shifted as the post office took greater power over the processing of Santa letters.
6. CHARITY GROUPS FOUGHT THEM.
When the Post Office Department changed the guidelines on answering Santa’s letters, many established charities protested, complaining that the needs of the children writing the letters could not be verified, which it was actually a generally inefficient method to provide resources to the poor. A typical complaint came from the Charity Organization Society, whose representative wrote towards the Postmaster General, “I beg to request your consideration of your unwholesome publicity accorded to ‘Santa Claus letters’ within this as well as other cities at Christmas time a year ago.” Such pleas eventually lost in the market to the public’s sentimentality, as being the Postmaster General determined answering the letters would “assist in prolonging [children’s] youthful belief in Santa Claus.”
7. KIDS DON’T ALWAYS ADDRESS Those To THE NORTH POLE.
Some children sending letters today direct these people to the North Pole, for the first decades of Santa letters this became one among many potential destinations. Other areas where children imagined St. Nick based his operations included Iceland, Ice Street, Cloudville, or “Behind the Moon.” Exceptions can still be found today. Some U.S. letters addressed to “Santa Claus” wind up with the local post office for handling in the Operation Santa program, in the event the notes are addressed to Anchorage, Alaska, or Santa Claus, Indiana (a genuine city name) they will head to those cities’ post offices, where they obtain a special response from local letter-answering campaigns. Kids in England can address letters to “Santa’s Grotto” in Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ. Canadian children can just write “North Pole” and add the postmark H0H 0H0 to guarantee the big man gets their notes.
8. Not Every Person ANSWERING THE LETTERS IS SQUEAKY-CLEAN.
While a lot of the people and organizations who took in the project of answering Santa letters are upstanding, happy folks, a number of the more prominent efforts to resolve Santa’s mail experienced sad endings. In Philadelphia, Elizabeth Phillips played “Miss Santa Claus” for the city’s poor during the early 1900s, but shortly after losing the authority to answer Santa’s mail (caused by a change in post office policy), she killed herself by inhaling gas fumes. Quite a while later, John Duval Gluck took over answering Ny City’s Santa letters, within the organized efforts from the Santa Claus Association. But after 20 years plus a quarter-million letters answered, Gluck was found to have used the corporation for their own enrichment, and the group lost the authority to dexspky60 Santa’s mail. More recently, a The Big Apple postal worker pled guilty this October to stealing from Santa: while using USPS’s Operation Santa Claus to get generous New Yorkers to deliver her gifts.
9. THE POST OFFICE TRACKS THEM Inside A DATABASE.
In an attempt to formalize the answering of Santa letters, in 2006 the Usa Postal Service established national policy guidelines for Operation Santa, run out of individual post offices throughout the country. The principles required those seeking to answer letters to appear personally and offer photo ID. 3 years later, USPS added the rule that every children’s addresses be redacted from letters before they head to potential donors, replaced with a number instead. The whole thing is kept in a Microsoft Access database that simply the post office’s team of “elves” has access.
10. SANTA Posseses An EMAIL ADDRESS.
Always one to evolve with all the times, Santa now answers email. Kids can reach him through numerous outlets, like Letters to Santa, Email Santa, and Elf HQ. Macy’s encourages kids to email St. Nick included in its annual “Believe” campaign (children can also go the previous-fashioned route and drop a letter in the red mailbox at their nearest Macy’s store), and the folks behind the Elf in stock empire offer their particular connection to St. Nick.